In 1951 psychologist Solomon Asch conducted a famous experiment on ‘conformity’.
He conducted this test on 50 males students from Swarthmore College in the USA.
In each case, one student was placed at the end of a line of 7 ‘plants’ who were in on the experiment.
A picture like this one was then passed down the line.
Each person was asked to say out loud which line on the image on the right was closest in length to the line in the left image.
The 7 plants all gave what is clearly a wrong answer.
The real test subject then gave that clearly wrong answer 32% of the time.
Overall 75% of the subjects conformed with that wrong answer at least once.
The amount of times people got it wrong when tested alone was under 1%.
Now, I’m sure all the people who were swayed knew that they were giving what they thought was the wrong answer.
But they conformed in a disproportionally high number of cases.
Apparently, people conform for two main reasons.
Because they want to fit in with the group (normative influence).
And / or because they believe the group is better informed than they are (informational influence).
And we all do it.
In different circumstances to each other, sure.
But we all do it from time to time.
And, as always, knowing and recognising that is Step 1.
If you really, genuinely do want to eat that cake, biscuit, cereal bar, etc, etc…….
More than you do want to improve your waistline, energy levels, sleep, sex drive, longevity (or whatever you’re after), then that’s cool.
Who are we, or anyone else, to tell you that’s wrong.
But, from our experience, a lot of people’s decisions are based off what everyone around them is doing.
And not wanting to appear ‘different’.
If everyone else skips breakfast then has crisps and chocolate mid morning……
Then pops out to Starbucks for a pannini and massive coffee at lunch……
People don’t want to be the only one who brings a Tupperware box with a healthy, nutritious, tasty meal in misses that mid morning snack, having had a good breakfast.
We get that.
If everyone else is getting pissed up, it’s hard to be the only one staying sober.
We get that too.
Working on our ability to truly make our own decisions and not be influenced by the actions of others……..
It one of the best skills we can develop.
It’s not easy.
But it’s worth it.
And, it get’s easy.
When you’ve done it for a while, people just leave you to it.
They don’t try and flabotage you as it makes them feel bad when the don’t succeed.
Again – realisation is Step 1.
You genuinely want to do ABC more than you want XYZ, then that’s cool.
If you’re doing ABC because everyone else is……
Then, maybe, it’s time for a rethink 🙂
Jon ‘Non conformist’ Hall and Matt ‘Non disclosure’ Nicholson
RISE Macclesfield – myrise.co.uk
Serious transformations. Fun times!
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